December 4, 2012

Purdue has its man

Purdue's week-and-a-half-long search for its 35th head football coach has met its end.

Kent State coach Darrell Hazell, the 2012 Mid-American Conference Coach-of-the-Year, has accepted Purdue's offer to succeed Danny Hope atop the Boilermaker program, sources confirmed to Tuesday night.

As of 9:30 p.m., Purdue was preparing its announcement, likely in advance of a Wednesday press conference.

Kent State has called a meeting 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, at which time its players will be informed of the coach's departure. Hazell presided Tuesday afternoon over Kent State's first practice in advance of the Bowl.

The 48-year-old Hazell guided the historically middling Golden Flashes to an 11-2 season. Had it not been for a narrow overtime loss to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game in Detroit, Kent State would likely have made history by being included in the Bowl Championship Series field.

Kent State finished the season ranked No. 25 in the AP poll, its season buoyed by a win at then-No. 17 Rutgers, which was 7-0 at the time. It was the first win over a ranked opponent in program history. Kent's date with Arkansas State in the Jan. 6 Bowl in Mobile, Ala., will mark the first bowl appearance in program history.

It was Hazell's second season at Kent State, which was his first head coaching job. The Flashes were 5-7 in 2011, including losses to Alabama and Kansas State.

Prior to Kent State, Hazell was on Jim Tressel's Ohio State staff from 2004-10, serving as the Buckeyes' wide receivers and kick returns coach in '04, then as receivers coach and assistant head coach the remainder of his time in Columbus.

Before that, the New Jersey native coached receivers at Rutgers under Greg Schiano from 2001-03, after coaching West Virginia's running backs in 1999 and 2000.

Purdue has been in the market for a new coach ever since it fired Hope after four seasons last Sunday.

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